New York Metropolis Mayor Eric Adams is dealing with backlash after transferring ahead with a number of coverage modifications that crack down on the town’s homeless inhabitants.
On Tuesday, Adams introduced officers will start hospitalizing extra homeless individuals by involuntarily offering care to these deemed to be in “psychiatric disaster.”
“For too lengthy, there was a grey space the place coverage, regulation, and accountability haven’t been clear, and this has allowed individuals in want to slide by the cracks,” Adams mentioned. “This tradition of uncertainty has led to untold struggling and deep frustration. It can’t proceed.”
And for months, Adams and his administration have mentioned stopping unhoused individuals from sheltering in subways regardless of pending price range cuts that will take away providers the town gives to the homeless. At the very least 470 individuals had been reportedly arrested this yr for “being outstretched” or taking over multiple seat on a practice automobile. In March, the authorities focused these residing beneath the Brooklyn-Queens expressway in Williamsburg whereas Adams reportedly attended an occasion selling a Wells Fargo bank card individuals can use to pay lease.
Adams’ insurance policies drew criticism from advocates for homeless individuals.
“Mayor Adams continues to get it incorrect on the subject of his reliance on ineffective surveillance, policing, and involuntary transport and remedy of individuals with psychological sickness,” Jacquelyn Simone, coverage director for the Coalition for the Homeless, mentioned in a assertion on Tuesday. “Homeless individuals are extra prone to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators, however Mayor Adams has regularly scapegoated homeless individuals and others with psychological sickness as violent.
Eva Wong, the director of the mayor’s workplace of neighborhood psychological well being, defended the modifications.
“These new protocols and trainings will be sure that companies and programs liable for connecting our neighborhood members with extreme psychological diseases to remedies are working in unison to get them the help they want and deserve,” Wong mentioned.
Nonetheless, others are uncertain if the town has the infrastructure it wants for emergency medical response. New York Metropolis public advocate Jumaane D. Williams mentioned the town wants to speculate hundreds of thousands into its method to the continuing psychological well being disaster.
The variety of respite care facilities, which the town makes use of to accommodate these in disaster, fell by half previously three years, in response to a current report. Solely two drop-in facilities for adults coping with a psychological well being disaster have been created since 2019. There have been greater than 60,000 homeless individuals, together with 19,310 homeless kids, sleeping in New York Metropolis’s principal municipal shelter system, as of September, in response to the Coalition for the Homeless.
“The continuing reckoning with how we outline and produce public security has additionally put a highlight on the necessity to holistically deal with this disaster as a difficulty of well being, slightly than merely regulation enforcement,” Williams mentioned in a assertion.
NPR’s Dylan Scott contributed to this story.